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To gain the most benefit the primary program should be viewed as a long-term commitment. The curriculum spans three years, with each year building upon each other, culminating in the kindergarten year. Children, aged three to six are grouped together and materials, which are presented in the first year, increase in complexity as the child grows older.
The child’s first year is one of developing concentration, making sense of order, and a basic understanding of how to use the rich Montessori materials. The second year is filled with confidence as the child moves through materials, now familiar from the year before. The third and final year, finds a child mastering materials he saw older children embrace and provides the most wonderful gift of all: the opportunity to be the “teacher” mentoring the younger children. That third year in the cycle is the most fruitful, bringing together all the child has learned during the previous two years and allowing him to be the leader.
The primary 3-6 classroom curriculum is grouped into five general areas: Practical life, sensorial, language, math and cultural. With the gentle guiding of the teacher, the children make independent choices in areas that are of greatest interest to them.
The practical life
The sensorial activities
The language curriculum
The math materials
The cultural program
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The practical life exercises help the children care for themselves independently and be responsible for maintaining their environment. Children concentrate on developing daily skills, such as spooning, pouring, sweeping and dishwashing. Just beneath the surface are the development of skills that are less tangible – concentration, coordination, independence and a sense of order. These are the foundation of a child’s work habits.
The sensorial activities aid the child in the development of their senses — sight, touch, sound, taste and smell. Dr. Montessori wrote, “Everything that enters the mind, enters through the senses.” Children develop visual and tactile discrimination, using materials. designed to stimulate the senses; such as smelling jars with candles, temperature bottles, fabric matching and a Montessori favorite, the “pink tower.” Emphasis is placed on textures. shapes, sizes; colors, smells-and sounds of objects.
The language curriculum develops a child’s visual, kinesthetic, and phonetic skills. The child is first provided a sensorial impression of a letter and then moves into writing and reading through prepared steps. Writing is developed by not only forming letters but also by working on the formation of shapes that eventually turn into letters. Puzzle pieces in information that are in our alphabet, such as squares, ovals or ellipses, are traced over and over again to develop a child’s understanding of a letter’s impression. Reading is also taught using a multi-sensorial approach and children learn to read phonetically with sounds. Our teachers use commonly found objects to reinforce the sounds (“c” = a candle or cat). Conservational language is the final piece of the language curriculum — importance is placed on a child’s ability to tell a story, listen and retell a story in both individual and group settings.
The math materials provide the child with a concrete impression of the quantity being taught, along with the symbols. Children are encouraged to explore quantities not only with their eyes but also with their hands. We help the child manipulate objects (golden beads for instance) to show number value. For instance, a child of four or five can see that “272” is composed of 2 one-hundred-squares, 7 ten-bars and 2 units. The child is better able to master abstract mathematical processes after experiencing hands-on representations of the concept.
The cultural program rounds out the primary 3-6 curriculum and is broken down into two areas: The study of the natural world and social. Nature study brings the real world into the classroom and children are exposed to living (animal and plant species) and non-living (rocks, sticks, marbles) classifications. Fall nature walk; for instance, are sure to include leaf collection and much discussion about squirrels or frogs.
The social studies curriculum teaches geography and the exploration of cultures. Children create world maps and study specific cultures, especially the background of students in the class. Children become familiar with another culture’s flag, food, music, and clothing. Attention is placed not just (just in case synonym) on the differences with another culture but the similarities as well.
The emphasis at Woodlands Montessori is on individualized learning, but there are daily opportunities for group projects and social interactions. The child’s birthday celebration is unique and the family is encouraged to share the child’s special birthday circle.
- Develop daily skills
- Further develop five senses
- Improve children’s visual, kinesthetic and phonetic skills
- Teach quantity and values through mathematical techniques
- Ability to study natural and social world through nature
- Learn different cultures and backgrounds
- Working in groups and social interactions